The British Horse Society (BHS) and Canewdon Equestrians have launched a new initiative (18 October) to teach primary school children between the ages of 9-11 years old on how to pass horses safely on the road as pedestrians, cyclists and passengers in a car.
The launch took place at Westerings Primary Academy, along with pupils from Holt Farm Junior School in Essex, where a tragic road accident took place in 2016 resulting in the death of a horse and injury of its rider.
Following the launch which is supported by local councillor, Julie Gooding and MP Mark Francois it is hoped that the scheme will be rolled out by the BHS to primary schools across the UK.
The scheme has been developed after alarming statistics revealed over 845 road incidents involving horses and drivers have been reported to the BHS in the last year, with 60 of those happening in the South East of the country, leading to the death of four horses and one person.
The Society collates statistics each year as part of their Dead or Dead Slow campaign to understand the rate of incidents involving horses and riders on UK roads, enabling them to educate all road users and lobby government in making the roads safer for not only horses and riders, but drivers and passengers too, which have played a huge part in implementing.
Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society said: “We’re really pleased to be working on this fantastic project and one that we hope will eventually be delivered in all primary schools across the UK.
“Our Dead or Dead Slow campaign which educates drivers and horse riders on how to stay safe when they encounter one another on the road has already been hugely successful, but worryingly, only one in 10 incidents are reported to us each year so the actual number is likely to be much higher. By educating children as well as adults, I really believe we can help to save even more lives in the future.”
Claire Lilley from Canewdon Equestrians added: “I am so happy that this important project is finally coming to life. I have been a rider in the area for many years and in that time, I witnessed a tragic car accident involving my friend and her horse, Angel who was sadly killed during the collision.
“Together, with the help of our local councillor, Julie Gooding and MP Mark Francois, Canewdon Equestrians have raised so much awareness on the importance of driving safely around horses and after an initial pilot lesson with some of the local children, it became very clear that not only did they enjoy it but they had a huge part to play in educating the general public.”
Councillor Julie Gooding said “My background of working in schools as a professional youth worker gave me the insight to know the power young minds have when educated at an early age.
“I suggested working with schools to raise awareness of the dangers that can affect vulnerable road users. This includes pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and passengers.
“Working with Canewdon Equestrians we devised a fun interactive programme to include role play in all aspects of road users, given that horses are a flight animal. The British Horse Society has supported our initiative and developed it to be acceptable with other road safety authorities.“
To find out more information about The Road Safety Awareness Project and to donate to the BHS, please visit: https://www.bhs.org.uk/our-work/safety/henry-the-horse